Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn or a Mark Manson F*ck
Sep 28 2016

squirrels-nutsmasteIt’s an unconventional title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life(amazon link), but it’s an insightful, irreverent, and hilarious book that’s not too trite, sappy, or “duh, who doesn’t already know that!” kind of read. It seems to be about how so many of us get hung up on the wrong things and make ourselves and potentially others in our social solar system miserable. He helps the reader figure out what they really should give a f*ck about instead of wasting time and energy measuring their success or failures using other peoples metrics instead of their own.

He suggests if we go through life being uncertain about everything, including our adamant beliefs about ourselves and others, as well as accept our idiosyncrasies and human flaws, we will be much happier.  I suck at directions, and that’s OK!

Those who are absolutely certain about things tend never to achieve lasting happiness because really, as most of us know, nothing is certain and disappointment is inevitable.  As a person who practices yoga, self-learning, appreciates the teachings of the Buddha, was raised Episcopal/Southern Baptist, and performs much less mental self-flagellation than I used to, the concepts Manson discusses resonate with me.

It’s a much more upbeat read than the must read book Man’s Search for Meaning(amazon link) by Viktor Frankel, a psychiatrist who writes about concentration camp survivors. Those who made it through the experience (if they weren’t randomly killed) had something they really gave a f*ck about. Those who didn’t were more likely to be measuring success by using metrics that didn’t fit the situation in which they found themselves (i.e., the drastically unfortunate cards they were dealt). I think the lessons in Frankel’s and Manson’s books are similar, but Manson uses many more F-Bombs and has modernized it to address our current more whiny “first world problems,” because, fortunately, almost none of us Gen X’ers and Millennials had to survive a horrific concentration camp!

Other posts I’ve written on self-exploration that may be useful to new/future readers are:

Wow, I didn’t realize how much I wrote about this sappy, self-help, existential crisis stuff! But I think all that writing and creating of songs I did was better than doing the 100+ less emotionally, physically, spiritually, medically healthy things I could have done while processing all that painful personal growth, trying to stay a mostly sane mother, and not turning into a raging HULK. Haha! Thanks to my readers who actually read my ramblings and still remained readers! 😛

Based on who you ask and when you ask them, I am much happier, tolerant, understanding, and calmer (unless provoked/poked while I’m under duress!) than I used to be even 3 to 5 years ago, which likely explains why I post much less frequently.  I’ve learned to tame some of those demons (who never fully disappear), set better boundaries (which Manson mentions in his book), be OK with my human failings by relying on GPS, and try to make better choices largely thanks to the kindness, support, and understanding of my numerous truly amazing friends and certain great family members. Just like Manson and most of us, I am constantly learning what to give a f*ck about based on where I am in life. I’ve gotten better at letting the rest of it flow on by just like the river in Siddhartha(amazon link) by Herman Hesse.

I’ll be interested to see how Manson’s views change if/after he has kids. Those new humans can cause you to question your entire life in a mostly sleep deprived state as well as pummel your a$$ affirming how little we really know/understand about ourselves or tiny humans!  He also discusses the “fear of death” in his book. Ironically, I fear pain more than I fear death. I fear dying before my kids are on their own, and I can’t even think about anything bad happening to them because then I might as well be dead.

I highly suggest you read this book because I care enough about all of you (even if I don’t know you) that I don’t want you to embody this quote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau from Walden.

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A Transformation In Process
Dec 13 2008

Photo by my friend, Sandy Blanchard.

Last weekend I had a profound experience at a seminar called the Landmark Forum.  At the beginning of the forum, they tell you the goal is to experience a transformation.  I don’t think I achieved it in the intended way but the insights I gained have been phenomenal! 

I was extremely skeptical when I first heard about it.  I usually approach things from a very analytical viewpoint so I had a hard time getting over ‘I’ve seen this all before‘ mentality.  I even went to one of their orientation sessions at the recommendation of an amazing person, Marlene Merritt who founded Merritt Acupuncture, and left feeling like they were trying to ‘hard sell’ me on signing up.  I don’t like it when people try to convince me to buy something when I’m not ready.   

I saw Marlene a few times after that and each time she said she really felt I would get something out of attending and how taking it profoundly affected her life 7 years ago.  She didn’t get anything out of me signing up.  Nothing at all, except for the joy in seeing me go through a life changing event.  And for that I’m grateful.  I had been experiencing many diametrically opposing feelings leading up to my standing at The Entrepreneurial Ledge, so I signed up. 

After signing up, a friend sent me a link to an article on a well respected online site with a note saying it seemed like a ponsi-scheme.  In addition to acknowledging that CNN and Reebok executives have successfully participated in the forum, the article strongly insinuated that it was cult-like.  I was hurt when I read the article because it took a lot for me to share that I was taking the course.  After taking the class and thinking about it, I decided to re-interpret his response and apply a different meaning — one that meant he cared enough about me to research it and share his concerns.  

Another friend who had taken the course also said it was a good course but she could see how people could think it was a bit cult-like because of the terminology they used.  After taking it, I determined it’s no more cult-like than the Episcopal or Southern Baptist churches I attended growing up!  She said she thought it might help me surface some issues so I should go in with an open mind.  And boy did it really unearth some stuff for me.

It’s hard to explain everything I got out of taking that course in a mere blog post but suffice it to say, I now view the world differently.  I’ve been able to have very different conversations with my kids, my husband, my mother, my sister, and my co-workers.  I even called my father who I haven’t spoken to in probably a couple of years…although we exchange email from time to time. 

I’m still me, but with a different view of my life and my world.  They describe the transformation as something like when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.  It is still the same creature but the butterfly has a vastly different view of its world because it can fly.  I don’t feel like I’m a butterfly yet, but I understand more of the mechanics of how one becomes one. 

The Landmark Forum can’t really be compared to anything else, but humans learn by comparing so while I was sitting there, many of the concepts reminded me of what is written in The Power of Now, Siddhartha, and A New Earth (book links below) as well as what many philosophers and psychologists have mentioned in the past.  After all, even the Bible states “there is nothing new under the sun!” 

I 100% believe that if everyone took the Landmark Forum, there would be fewer wars and misunderstandings in this world.  Before finishing the Forum, we were all supposed to come up with a possibility we were inventing for ourselves and our lives and one 50-ish year old man got up at the microphone in front everyone and shared his.  His mother and brother had both died when he was fairly young and he had been angry for most of his life.  He was angry that they had left him and he had not even realized how hurt and angry he was for so many years.  The possibility he invented for himself was the possibility of having every teenage orphan in the United States take the Landmark Forum for teens.  He felt if he could save those kids the decades of pain he felt, he could make a huge difference in this world.  I gave him both of my cards and said “let me know how I can help.” 

You’ll have to take the Forum yourself for the punch line, but one of the possibilities I invented for myself and my life is the possibility of being courageous and empowering people to achieve their dreams.  Now people might think I already do some of that but it’s always been laced with fear of people not liking me…or worse that I will be abandoned and not loved. 

And coincidentally enough on Tuesday at my day job, before the last late night session of the Forum, I was presented with the opportunity to be courageous.  And I was and still am afraid, but I took a stand anyway.  I may not have this day job for much longer because of the stand I am taking, and people might not like me, but I don’t want to look back and say I was not true to the possibility I invented for myself and my life…

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